Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer
Though Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already altering the way lawyers think, the way they conduct business, and the way they manage their clients, the legal profession still largely relies on paralegals, legal assistants, and interns to manually research and process information.
Unfortunately, complete reliance on humans for this work can be expensive, and this cost is often passed on to the client through increased rates. Additionally, in offices that are short staffed, this manner of information processing and research can leave little time for thorough analysis of each case.
Now, thanks to the arrival of AI, many firms have access to a variety of technologies, software, and tools to help them work more efficiently and strategically. Tasks like billing and filling legal forms are now almost entirely automated. AI in the legal profession does not stop there however, there are many new applications being created that can manage more complex duties as well as, or even better than humans. In this article, we break down some of the most anticipated and beneficial abilities for new AI applications in the legal industry:
Document review is used, and often required for adequate due diligence, for review and classification of financial statements, contracts, and other company data. The process is an arduous and costly task. It usually requires gathering documents stored in various places and examining each one for key data points. Once all documents have been reviewed, law firm support staff must create a due diligence report based on their findings. It is well known that attorneys and firm support staff spend significant time and money on this. Thankfully, there are AI programs specifically formulated for document review - even privilege review. These programs can automatically scan through many documents and unstructured data sources, often with greater precision and accuracy than more traditional search term software or human review methods.
Legal research will always be a crucial aspect of law. Lawyers need to review and reference laws, and keep up-to-date on changes, on a regular basis. What has changed over the years is how that work is done. Years ago, attorneys would conduct their research through handwritten documentation and hardcopy books. Today, nearly all law firms utilize online research resources like WestLaw or LexisNexis. However, the ever-evolving landscape now allows some aspects of research to be automated. Current AI research platforms use technologies that include elements of machine learning, pattern recognition, data visualization, and natural language processing, to scan the internet and other databases for applicable and opposing law.
One of the oldest applications of AI in the legal world has been in the area of billing. AI has streamlined and automated the legal billing by being able to code services, generate and receive invoices, and collect payment. It can also assist with report generation and financial audits.
AI can be used to support compliance professionals and attorneys by understanding compliance requirements and prompting appropriate action. When used in organizations internally, AI software can monitor communication, find problematic patterns, pinpoint misconduct, and help protect companies against fraud, often catching what would be missed by humans.
AI software can generate predictive results to provide an informative forecast for many uncertainties firms regularly face, such as:
- Should a matter be litigated or settled?
- What is the likelihood our motion or trial argument will prevail?
- Valuations, for cases and companies in mergers
- How much in fees should the firm charge?
- And can those costs be reduced?
AI legal analytics draws insights from large volumes of data to help lawyers make strategy decisions. AI can search court text to locate (and extract) phrases and opinions that may be beneficial to your argument, allowing you to, for example, use the exact language in a judge’s ruling to generate case law in support of your argument. Legal analytics can also utilize data points from past case law, win/loss rates and judge decision histories to track trends and arguments that were effective in the past.
Automated Document Generation
Document automation uses patterns, Machine Learning and logic systems to extract segments of pre-existing and past used text and/or data to create and assemble new electronic documents. It makes it easy to create auto-filled-in documents from templates and can be applied to contracts, human resources forms, and privilege logs.
Intellectual Property Evaluation
In Intellectual Property portfolio management, the patent evaluation process assesses the technical merits of a patent, while the patent appraisal process provides a value expressed in dollars and cents. Traditionally, the process of evaluating and appraising has been completed manually. Recently, however, capabilities have emerged that automate both processes. Artificial intelligence algorithms can analyze the technological aspects of a patent as well as identify similar patent royalty rates and/or dollar values and determine average market prices.
The Future of AI in Law
In 2012, the American Bar Association formally adopted changes to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct that emphasize attorneys’ obligations to maintain competency not only in the law, but also in technology.
Specifically, the amendment to Model Rule 1.1, states: “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.”
Artificial Intelligence is “relevant technology.” As noted in the Harvard Business Review, AI is “[t]he most important general-purpose technology of our era.”
Staying abreast of ever-changing AI technology includes: regular education, utilizing informative platform vendors, and maintaining a general understanding of the capabilities and limitations for your software.
As evidenced above, AI has a lot to offer the legal profession and that list is sure to grow as developments continue. Advancement in machine learning technology and natural language processing will continue to provide the type of accuracy that is crucial in the law.
The popularity of AI is sure to continue to increase as humans continue to generate troves of unstructured data daily and organizations continue to look for ways to decrease expenses. The cost reduction aspect of AI is often very attractive to firm leadership and corporate boards. The one-time cost associated with an initial AI platform setup and any annual subscription fees will save the firm money in comparison to hiring hourly employees in perpetuity. When firms save money through AI, they shift their expenditures towards more high-level attorneys and support staff jobs. This confirms the notion that the technology augments legal professionals, not replace them.. AI is certainly set to enhance, not replace, the way lawyers work.
To learn more about how AI can enhance the legal profession, please visit here.